Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE:HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division has reached a highpoint in its refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
The shipyard installed the final piece of the ship’s new main mast—the 34-foot upper mast section—that raises the ship’s distinctive profile 123 feet above the flight deck. The RCOH now is 50 percent complete.
“Landing the upper mast is one of the most visible construction milestones in the mid-life refueling overhaul and maintenance availability of an aircraft carrier,” said Chris Miner, the shipyard’s VP, in-service aircraft carrier programs.
To commemorate the milestone, George Washington sailors on Friday held a brief mast-stepping ceremony that recognizes an ancient maritime custom of placing a coin underneath the ship’s mast to bring good fortune. A time capsule containing photos, a piece of the old mast, several coins and other artifacts was attached to a metal plate that later will be welded under the mast.
The ship arrived at Newport News in August 2017 to begin the complex engineering and construction project and is currently in dry dock for hull and freeboard blasting and painting; repairs to its propellers, sea chests, shafts and rudders; and defueling and refueling of its power plant.
George Washington, the sixth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to undergo this major life-cycle milestone, is on track for delivery in 2021.